Azalea flower bud management

How’s that title? Pretty professional for an amateur bonsai guy eh? This Kurume azalea is one I collected 14 years ago from my front yard. Kurume azaleas have multiple flowers per bud, and when they open, I feel there’re a bit crowded. A few years ago, I tried removing buds to allow those remaining a little additional “elbow room”.

It’s very simple, and I think the overall effect is very nice.

Here’s a branch with three buds, each in a different stage of development. Look at the left bud, and it’s apparent that it contains 3 flower buds. When they’re distinguishable like this, I begin to thin them out, removing 2 and leaving 1 per cluster.

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Once the three are removed to 1, each has enough room to open:

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Another benefit of this technique is the ability to help time the blooming so all the buds are open at the same time. Leaving the smallest buds in each cluster delays the full bloom, and conversely, leaving the largest buds in each cluster hastens it. Food for thought.

By comparison, here is another branch that was left to its own devices, and open a week later. What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “Azalea flower bud management

  1. Brian, I saw the the pictures of this tree on the BonsaiNut forum this week. It amazed me to see this from a shurb, the hard pruning done at the workshop and your continued care to the Beautiful tree it is now. I tell myself surely you have a bonsai graveyard of trees somewhere, but it sure seems everything you touch turns out Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your Knowledge.

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